Today, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updated North Carolina county vaccination data from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Services and Federal Bureau of Prisons to reflect the county of residence for the person vaccinated. This will result in the vaccination rate changing for several counties on the North Carolina COVID-19 Dashboard.
As part of its regular data quality review, NCDHHS discovered a vaccination report from the CDC was based on county of administration. All other vaccine data is by county of residence. North Carolina was the first state to raise the issue to the CDC as most other states are not providing this level of data on their public dashboards. The CDC has now provided the correct report, and NCDHHS has updated the public dashboard accordingly.
Throughout the pandemic, NCDHHS has worked to improve data accuracy and transparency in its reporting. The information on the data dashboard is used to promote equity, track progress and guide decision-making. Having the most accurate information available is important so local and state leaders have the data needed to inform decision-making.
This update will most affect vaccination rates in seven counties. Specifically, Buncombe (-3%), Graham (+4%), Hoke (-19%), Jackson (-9%), Orange (-11%), Rowan (-8%) and Swain (+15%) will see the greatest impact. An estimated 82 counties will have an increased vaccination rate, with around 55 having an increase of 1% or more. The remaining counties will either see no change or see a decrease, with the majority being between 1 and 2 percent. NCDHHS is working with local health departments in the seven counties on any needed changes to vaccine strategy and communication.
The change in county data for federal entities will not impact demographic data, which does not include vaccinations provided by the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs or the Indian Health Services. These federal entities do not provide data directly to the states. Instead, NCDHHS was able to begin accessing information from the CDC in August and added it to the dashboard at both the state and county level. Having data from these entities provides a more accurate picture of vaccinations in the state.
Additionally, to align with new updates to the national COVID-19 surveillance case definition, NCDHHS will begin reporting reinfections with COVID-19 as part of COVID-19 case counts starting Oct. 4. The dashboard does not currently include subsequent COVID-19 infections for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 more than once, so the change will cause an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases being reported in the state. The increase will be reflected on the Cases and Summary dashboards.
A reinfection means a person was infected once with COVID-19, recovered, and then tested positive at least 90 days after their initial positive test. As of Sept. 26, 2021, more than 10,000 reinfections have occurred in North Carolina since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Including reinfections on NCDHHS dashboards provides a more accurate representation of COVID-19 case counts in North Carolina and at the county level going forward. Reinfection data will not be applied retroactively and will not appear on the dashboard for dates prior to Oct. 1, 2021.
COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates by vaccination status are included in the weekly CLI Surveillance Summary. All data is preliminary and is subject to change.
For more information and to view the NCDHHS data dashboard, visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.